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Ballet fans might jump for joy at ‘Leap!’

August 25th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Ballet enthusiasts of all ages should jump at the chance to see the charming animated film “Leap!” Set in 1880s France, and originally entitled “Ballerina,” this French-Canadian movie, produced by L’Atelier Animation and directed with brio by Eric Summer and Eric Warin, is a visual wonder.

Animated characters Felicie, voiced by Elle Fanning, and Victor, voiced by Nat Wolff, appear in the movie “Leap!” The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. . (CNS/Weinstein)

Streetscapes of Paris are rendered in colorful detail, while precise ballet poses and movements are depicted in a fluid, almost photo-realistic manner. Nor does the inclusion of a couple of mild bathroom jokes seriously detract from a winning tale about friendship, perseverance and helping others in need.

The plot centers on two orphans, Felicie (voice of Elle Fanning) and Victor (voice of Nat Wolff). Inspired by a music box left in her crib by the birth mother she never knew, Felicie longs to be a dancer. Victor, on the other hand, wants to be a famous inventor.

The buddies plan their getaway. “We arrived at the same time and we’ll escape at the same time,” says Felicie.

Standing in their way are the authorities at their (presumably Catholic) orphanage: the predictably stern Mother Superior (voice of Kate McKinnon) and a gruesome caretaker, Monsieur Luteau (voice of Mel Brooks).

But destiny will not be denied and, with Victor masquerading as a nun, the merry duo absconds. They make their way to City of Light where Victor lands a job in the workshop of Gustave Eiffel, who is busy constructing his namesake tower.

Meanwhile, Felicie heads to Paris’ famed opera house and its ballet school. She meets Odette (voice of Carly Rae Jepsen), a cleaning woman with a secret: She was once a prima ballerina until sidelined by injury.

Odette takes pity on the orphan and agrees to train her so she can impress Merante (voice of Terrence Scammell), the demanding instructor of wannabe ballerinas. To succeed, Felicie must outwit Odette’s mean boss, Regine Le Haut (also voiced by McKinnon), and Regine’s bratty daughter, Camille (voice of Maddie Ziegler).

Dozens and dozens of plies and pirouettes later, Felicie faces Camille in the ultimate dance-off for a coveted starring role in

“The Nutcracker.” Through it all, Felicie is sustained by the voice of her birth mother (McKinnon again) saying in her head: “Don’t give up on your dreams. If you never leap you’ll never know what it is to fly.”

The film contains brief scatological humor and a less than flattering representation of women religious. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II, adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG.

     

McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

 

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‘All Saints’ celebrates Christian family life

August 25th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Sincere but less than slick, the low-key, fact-based drama “All Saints” celebrates Christian faith and family life. Believers, accordingly, will likely be inclined to overlook its artistic shortcomings.

Nelson Lee and John Corbett star in a scene from the movie “All Saints.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. (CNS photo/AFFIRM Films)

Director Steve Gomer and screenwriter Steve Armour recount the story of the titular Episcopal parish in Smyrna, Tenn. With its dwindling congregation down to a mere dozen, the church appears to have no future. So its new pastor, Michael Spurlock (John Corbett), arrives with orders from his superior, Bishop Thompson (Gregory Alan Williams), to shut it down and sell off its property.

A former salesman taking up his first assignment in ministry, Michael is not disposed to question his instructions, at least at first. But the revitalizing influence of an influx of devoutly Anglican refugees from Southeast Asia — Nelson Lee plays their leader, Ye Win — begins to change his outlook.

The newcomers are Karen people, the victims of long-standing and bloody persecution by the government of their homeland, Myanmar. Partly in order to aid them, but also with an eye to rescuing All Saints, Michael launches a scheme to transform the fields around the church into a profitable farm.

His plan draws the support of his dedicated wife, Aimee (Cara Buono), but the steady opposition of Forrest (Barry Corbin), an ornery veteran parishioner. Other challenges come in the form of a lack of equipment and a potential drought.

Through the changing fortunes that follow, Michael demonstrates determination, perseverance and solidarity with the immigrants who now make up the bulk of his flock. Gomer clearly aims to inspire his audience, and
“All Saints,” despite its necessary discussion of the ill-treatment to which the Karen have been subjected, is generally wholesome and suitable for most age groups.

Considered on a purely aesthetic level, however, the picture suffers from a sluggish pace and often awkward tone. Good intentions help to make up for, but cannot entirely mask, these defects. Still, patient patrons will find positive values awaiting them under the sometimes-imperfect surface.

The film contains mature themes, including references to atrocities and rape, and a marital bedroom scene. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II, adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG.

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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‘Good Time’ — The title is ironic

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Catholic News Service

Gritty and intense, the ironically titled crime drama “Good Time” actually charts some very grim hours in the lives of its central characters.

Robert Pattinson stars in a scene from the movie “Good Time.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/A24)

In doing so, the film conducts viewers on a journey through a bleak urban landscape many entertainment-oriented moviegoers may not care to visit.

Robert Pattinson of “Twilight” fame plays petty criminal Connie Nikas. After their attempt to rob a bank goes awry, Connie and his mentally challenged brother Nick (Benny Safdie) make a run for it. Though Connie evades capture, Nick ends up in custody.

Desperate to free his vulnerable sibling, Connie embarks on a nocturnal odyssey through the underworld of New York City. He first tries to get his emotionally unstable girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to loan him bail money.

Later he takes refuge in the home of Haitian immigrant Annie (Gladys Mathon) and her teenage granddaughter Crystal (Taliah Webster) before joining forces with recent parolee Ray (Buddy Duress) in a scheme to make a quick windfall by selling a cache of liquid LSD.

Co-directed by Safdie and his brother Josh (who co-wrote the script with Ronald Bronstein), “Good Time” presents a subtly shaded portrait of its protagonist, aided by an outstanding performance from Pattinson. At once a vicious thug and a relentlessly committed defender of the one person in the world he really cares about, Connie appeals even as he repels.

The picture’s seamy milieu, however, suggests caution even on the part of grownups. This is a slice of life in which the disadvantaged scramble to survive, pursue gratification from narcotics and debased sexuality and, with the notable exception of Connie’s unflagging concern for Nick, seem to aim at nothing higher than cheap thrills.

The film contains much nonlethal violence, including bloody beatings, brief graphic casual sex and an underage bedroom encounter, drug use, several instances of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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‘Logan Lucky’ is a zany heist caper

August 24th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Director Steven Soderbergh reinvents his “Ocean’s Eleven” trilogy with a backwoods twist in “Logan Lucky, ” a zany heist caper.

Adam Driver, Tom Archdeacon and Alex Ross star in a scene from the movie “Logan Lucky.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. (CNS /Fingerprint Releasing, Bleecker Street)

Instead of suave leading men like George Clooney and Brad Pitt, who rob casinos with sophistication and flair, Rebecca Blunt’s screenplay presents a band of mismatched misfits from West Virginia who turn to crime in the hope of a better life beyond the trailer park.

The resulting romp is an amusing bit of fluff, a tasty confection that, like cotton candy and other late summer treats, does not linger long in the memory. It’s safest for grownups, but possibly acceptable for mature teens as well.

Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) has just lost his job as a coal miner. He adores his daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie), who lives with his mean ex-wife, Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes). With Bobbie Jo planning to relocate out of state, Jimmy is in desperate need of cash to move closer to his daughter.

He concocts a scheme to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway in neighboring North Carolina during a NASCAR race. The racetrack sits atop a series of tunnels which Jimmy helped to excavate, and where he observed the elaborate system of pneumatic tubes that funnels cash from the betting windows and concessions above to the vault below.

A bit too eagerly, Jimmy’s siblings hop on board: his one-armed bartender brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), who makes a mean martini, and his sassy sister, Mellie (Riley Keough), a beautician.

All that’s needed is a demolition expert to blow a hole in the vault. Enter the aptly named Joe Bang (Daniel Craig, straying very far indeed from his James Bond persona). There’s one catch: This lunatic is in prison.

No worries: Jimmy and Clyde arrange to spring Joe for the heist and have him back in his cell before the guards miss him.

“Logan Lucky” rolls merrily along, introducing more oddball characters than you can wave a racing flag at, including Joe Bang’s dimwit born-again brothers, Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson), and a smarmy race-team owner with the brilliant name of Max Chilblain (Seth MacFarlane).

As the climax nears, expect a few curve balls, as well as curvaceous FBI agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank). She arrives to investigate the so-called “Hillbilly Heist,” which also goes by the code name “Ocean’s 7-11” (wink, wink).

The film contains drug references and occasional profane and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

 

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‘The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature’ and bland

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Catholic News Service

Much of the action in the animated children’s comedy “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” unfolds at a frenzied pace. Yet, for all the sound and fury, this is in the end a bland film, unlikely to please any but the least discerning viewers.

Animated characters appear in the movie “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. (CNS photo/Open Road Films)

Perhaps that’s because the folks behind this sequel were too focused on 3-D special effects to waste time giving their characters much personality. Ironically, those effects turn out to raise the main objection to the picture from a parent’s perspective since, together with the many menacing situations to which the plot gives rise, they may be too scary for little kids.

The less-than-dynamic duo at center stage here is made up of squirrels Surly (voice of Will Arnett) and Andie (voice of Katherine Heigl). They’re obviously destined for each other from the start. But, of course, before true love can prevail there must be a conflict for them to resolve.

In this case, it concerns the fact that Surly, his unspeaking sidekick Buddy the rat and the rest of the gang from nearby Liberty Park have long been living off the abundance of an abandoned nut shop. Andie considers this a lazy and unnatural way of life, and is pleased when the negligence of one of her fellow animals causes an explosion that destroys the derelict building.

Trooping back to their original habitat, the critters suddenly find themselves pitted against their city’s corrupt, never-named Mayor (voiced by Bobby Moynihan). Hizzoner plans to bulldoze Liberty Park and turn it into a profit-making amusement concern.

As Surly organizes the resistance to this greed-driven project, huge earthmoving machines bear down on the small creatures. Later, an unmoored Ferris wheel lumbers through the Mayor’s creation, “Liberty Land,” rapidly and spectacularly destroying his handiwork. Grownups with jittery tykes in tow, take note.

Amid all the chases and the animal-human combat, the movie makes respectable, if hardly original, points about protecting the environment and the value of friendship and teamwork. It’s all perfectly acceptable for a wide swath of age groups.

Still, to paraphrase an old candy bar ad, sometimes you feel like a nut; this time, not so much.

The film contains cartoon violence, including explosions, recurring peril and mild gross-out and scatological jokes. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II, adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG.

     

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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‘The Glass Castle’ —From Jeannette with love and squalor

August 11th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Anyone who’s endured the ignominy of grinding poverty with an alcoholic, out-of- work parent understands that there’s nothing ennobling about the experience.

Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson star in a scene from the movie "The Glass Castle." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults.  (CNS/Lionsgate)

Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson star in a scene from the movie “The Glass Castle.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. (CNS/Lionsgate)

It’s something to endure, to escape if one can, and it leaves deep psychic scars for which later wealth is weak compensation. It’s not an experience to be sentimentalized.

For all its bitterness toward the Catholic Church, Frank McCourt’s childhood memoir “Angela’s Ashes,” in both book and film, got that much right. But “The Glass Castle,” the screen version of Jeannette Walls’ 2005 account of her impoverished youth, tries to put a cheery gloss on everything, as if all the excruciating history was somehow not as bad as it seemed at the time.

Jeannette, at age 3, is grotesquely burned when her clothing catches fire from a gas stove. This is portrayed as a character-builder rather than child neglect.

Walls’ memoir was unsparing with her indignities. They included having to use a ditch as a toilet, the constant presence of rats, and a racist paternal grandmother who molested her brother.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton, who co-wrote the screenplay with Andrew Lanham, avoids all the most wretched material, however, to invoke some kind of rosy Appalachian glow. As if a Christmastime snowfall makes everything so much better because it temporarily covers up the squalor.

Walls (Ella Anderson, mostly, as a child; Brie Larson from high school on) was one of four children of Rex (Woody Harrelson), a wannabe engineer with almost no formal schooling, and Rose Mary (Naomi Watts), a failed artist who never sold a painting.

Like one of playwright Eugene O’Neill’s dreamers, Rex is constantly designing a house for them (the glass castle of the title). But as a result of his boozing, he achieves none of his dreams. He and Rose Mary, though, manage to imbue all their children with vivid imaginations and lots of children’s literature so they can keep reality at bay.

After a peripatetic existence one step ahead of the law and bill collectors, the family ends up in Welch, W.Va., where Rex had grown up. It’s a rock bottom of several magnitudes. But somehow the children are educated, even when they’ve not eaten for several days. Rex’s only stable job is as a coal miner, but that doesn’t last for long.

Rex is sometimes violent. In reality, that’s always bad. In this film, though, it becomes just another of his quirks, and the father-daughter bond never breaks, even when his homespun “wisdom” sounds like something out of a phony Farmer’s Almanac.

Jeannette, with a ferocious love of writing, eventually becomes a famous celebrity gossip columnist in New York City. But even there her parents turn up, homeless and squatting in an abandoned building on the Upper East Side. She feels the need to keep her previous life secret when she becomes engaged to nebbishy David (Max Greenfield), although both she and her siblings do occasionally meet their parents for dinner.

This becomes the central conflict of the story: How does Jeannette deal with an invented reality for herself that omits her childhood poverty and her somewhat hopeless folks? When does she finally incorporate her past into her present?

That’s typically good stuff in either a drama or comedy. Here, though, it just drags on and on, which is typically the problem in a biopic in which nearly all the characters are very much alive and story lines are quietly sanitized.

There are no moral forces at work here. There’s only the feral ability to survive, as well as a depiction of poverty that’s as dishonest and delusional as Jeannette’s father.

The film contains a brief scene of implied child sexual abuse, physical violence and fleeting profanities and rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

 

Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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‘Annabelle: Creation’ — ‘Whatever you do, don’t unlock that door’

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Catholic News Service

Most of the mayhem wreaked by the figurine-haunting demon at the center of the horror prequel “Annabelle: Creation” is restrained. Yet, as the film progresses, director David F. Sandberg and his collaborators allow their imagery to become briefly but disturbingly graphic.

Stephanie Sigman stars in a scene from the movie "Annabelle: Creation." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Stephanie Sigman stars in a scene from the movie “Annabelle: Creation.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Accordingly, only those grown moviegoers willing to brave flashes of intense gore should say hello to this particular dolly.

This also is not a good fit for those insistent on strict logic or those who expect the characters on screen to behave rationally. As for Catholic viewers, they will likely be both annoyed and distracted by the wildly inaccurate, albeit incidental, portrayal of their faith incorporated into the proceedings.

In 1950s California, a group of female orphans shepherded by kindly nun Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) have somehow, by circumstances not specified in the script, been displaced from their former dwelling. They’ve been offered refuge, of a sort, at the rambling, spooky home of dollmaker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his invalid wife, Esther (Miranda Otto).

The Mullins are still overcome by grief following the death of their young daughter, Bee (Samara Lee), in a tragic car accident a dozen years before. So their hospitality is extended in an effort to brighten the tone of their funereal household. The outcome, of course, is quite the opposite.

No sooner has polio-afflicted Janice (Talitha Bateman) been warned by her brooding host to steer clear of Bee’s locked bedroom than she somehow finds herself inside that chamber, mucking about and stirring up trouble.

Discovering a hidden key to the closet in which the toy of the title has until now been confined, Janice unleashes her, much in the manner of Pandora opening her ill-fated box. Cue a reign of terror for nosy Janice, her BFF, Linda (Lulu Wilson), and the rest.

No matter how hair-raising the terrors to which Annabelle and her guiding fiend subject them, they always move toward danger, never away from it. Even allowing for youthful curiosity, this stubborn refusal to learn from experience becomes a tiresome trait.

Even more taxing, however, is a scene in which Sister Charlotte hears Janice’s confession of her disastrous trespass, not in the context of a confidential conversation but in what is clearly meant to be a formal sacramental encounter. Thus Janice kicks things off by requesting, “Bless me, Sister, for I have sinned,” and Sister Charlotte wraps things up by imposing a penance, though no absolution intervenes.

The fact that only bishops and priests can administer the sacrament of reconciliation is hardly a bit of inside-baseball religious arcana. The mistake is all the more glaring in a movie that clearly wants to position itself, in some vague way at least, as faith-friendly. Equally out of place in that proposed context is the counter-scriptural concept that infernal beings can somehow steal human souls.

There are some old-fashioned shivers awaiting the restricted audience for which this follow-up to the 2014 original can be labeled appropriate. But lapses in reason, believability and even the most rudimentary knowledge of Catholicism may inspire more frowns than frissons.

The film contains a distorted presentation of Catholic faith practices, stylized but briefly bloody violence, gruesome images and at last one mild oath. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R, restricted.

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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‘The Dark Tower’ is full of metaphysical hooey

August 8th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

Awash in high-flown metaphysical hooey, director and co-writer Nikolaj Arcel’s dull sci-fi fantasy “The Dark Tower” is inappropriate for the impressionable.

Matthew McConaughey stars in a scene from the movie "The Dark Tower." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS photo/Sony)

Matthew McConaughey stars in a scene from the movie “The Dark Tower.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. (CNS photo/Sony)

As for grown viewers, they should be prepared to slog through an involved exposition of non-scriptural ideas borrowed from the series of novels by Stephen King on which the film, penned with Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner and Anders Thomas Jensen, is built.

Extending rather than adapting the books, the movie uses the psychic nightmares of troubled New York teen Jake (Tom Taylor) to introduce us to a distant world, one of many, and the cosmic battle being fought out there. This struggle pits villainous wizard Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), aka the Man in Black, against Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), aka the Gunslinger.

O’Dim is bent on destroying the supernatural structure of the title which somehow, so we’re informed, keeps the evil lurking at the edges of the universe at bay. The lone remaining member of a group of Old West-style gunmen still resisting O’Dim and his cohorts, Roland is not only out to save the tower but yearns for revenge against O’Dim, whose spells have killed off every ally who has ever stood at his side.

While on the run from some of O’Dim’s minions in the Big Apple, Jake manages to get himself transported to Mid-World, one of the planets where this feud is being played out. Conveniently, the first person he encounters is Roland.

Despite an initially gruff reception, Jake convinces Roland that he can be of service to the cause. The bond that eventually develops between the two – Jake’s fireman father died in the line of duty — is one of the few potentially touching aspects of this tangled tale.

O’Dim’s method of assaulting the tower involves the torturous extraction of energy from the minds of kidnapped children. Since Jake has the gift of second sight, what the script terms “shine,” to an unrivaled degree, his psyche would represent the equivalent of a nuclear missile launched against the vital building — if, that is, O’Dim could only get his hands on the lad.

Roland is also endowed with paranormal powers, as too is a minor character who can read people’s thoughts and communicate with them without speaking. All this is portrayed very positively in a way that might mislead the poorly catechized. As for the religiously well-grounded, they would be wise to spare themselves the necessity of sifting through this pile of New Age nonsense.

The film contains occult themes, much gunplay and other violence, including torture, but with little gore, profanity and a couple of crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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‘Kidnap’ presents a long drive in a careening minivan

August 3rd, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

The compact thriller “Kidnap” has Halle Berry’s expressive face going for it, but not a whole lot else. The film is less a story about a mother’s enduring love and sacrifice for her young son than it is a long drive in an amazingly durable minivan.

Sage Correa and Halle Berry star in a scene from the movie "Kidnap." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. . (CNS/Aviron Pictures)

Sage Correa and Halle Berry star in a scene from the movie “Kidnap.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. . (CNS/Aviron Pictures)

Berry is Karla, a divorced waitress who’s mom to 6-year-old Frankie (Sage Correa). She’s about to get into a custody battle with her ex-husband when Frankie is abducted from a park by two cretinous goons, Margo and Terry (Chris McGinn and Lew Temple).

For what purpose Frankie has been snatched is a bit murky. Police in New Orleans issue an Amber Alert, but Karla takes off in pursuit, managing to keep the kidnappers always in view while speeding down highways, occasionally knocking aside bystanders and the odd police officer like so many bowling pins.

Director Luis Prieto and screenwriter Knate Lee have no interest in character development and motivation. There’s a mother and child, the kid is taken, Mama reverts to primeval maternal-warrior instinct, and the race is on.

Karla has a few interactions with the kidnappers, who are adept at lying about whether they’ll take her money instead of her son.

“Wherever you go, I will be right behind you, no matter what,” she vows. Ah. Got it. And so she is, although her chase, when it’s not veering into melodrama, often includes unintentional comedic moments meant to induce audience cheering.

The film contains gun and physical violence, considerable vehicular mayhem as well as profanity and rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

 

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‘Detroit’ visits harrowing moment in U.S. history

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Catholic News Service

A dark chapter of the Motor City’s history is revisited in “Detroit,” a searing period drama.

John Boyega stars in a scene from the movie "Detroit." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. .(CNS photo/Annapurna Pictures)

John Boyega stars in a scene from the movie “Detroit.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. .(CNS photo/Annapurna Pictures)

The setting is the summer of 1967, when race riots broke out in several cities across the country. In Detroit, simmering discontent over systemic discrimination and growing unemployment erupted in African-American neighborhoods. As protesters clashed with police, businesses were set afire and looting was widespread.

The crisis, which lasted four days, resulted in 43 dead, over 7,200 arrests, and the destruction of more than 2,000 buildings. “Detroit” zeroes in on one notorious incident of the so-called “12th Street Riot”: the police raid of the Algiers Motel that caused the death of three unarmed men and the brutal beating of several others.

As violence engulfed the city, the hotel became a refuge of sorts, harboring both innocent patrons and shady characters. Among the former are Larry Reed (Algee Smith) and Fred Temple (Jacob Latimore), members of an up-and-coming musical group, The Dramatics. Separated from their friends, they seek shelter at the Algiers.

At the hotel pool they meet two giggly prostitutes, Karen (Kaitlyn Dever) and Julie (Hannah Murray), white women from Ohio who are making the most of the “Summer of Love.”

Upstairs, 17-year-old Carl Cooper (Jason Mitchell) decides to show off by shooting blanks from a toy pistol. Turning his attention to the growing police presence outside, he next fires the gun into the crowd.

Suspecting a sniper, the police respond in droves, and a reign of terror descends on the Algiers and its residents, including Greene (Anthony Mackie), a decorated Vietnam vet.

The raid is led by a trigger-happy cop, Philip Krauss (Will Poulter), who has a reputation for shooting looters in the back. Krauss rounds up everyone and, with the assistance of fellow officer Flynn (Ben O’Toole), unleashes a ruthless, demeaning interrogation.

A witness to the unfolding horror is Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega), a black security guard charged with protecting a nearby grocery store from looters. Dismukes suspects wrongdoing, and inserts himself into the maelstrom at a key moment.

Needless to say, “Detroit” is not for the squeamish. Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), working from a script by Mark Boal, directs at a furious, gut-wrenching pace, placing the viewer in the very center of the fast-moving storm and incorporating real-life news footage to enhance the immediacy.

However, though graphic, the portrayal of police brutality is never gratuitous. Coupled with the subsequent miscarriage of justice, the harrowing events re-enacted in “Detroit” offer a powerful reminder to mature viewers of a sad but significant incident in America’s past.

The film contains intense bloody violence and torture, brief female nudity and pervasive profane and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

 

McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

 

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